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How to Answer the “Proudest Achievement” Interview Question

Certain questions are a given at job interviews. One in particular tends to intimidate job seekers; you guessed it, the "proudest achievement" question.

This open ended, behavior focused question might sound like one of the following questions.

"Can you describe the most important victory you achieved on the job?"

"Tell me about the proudest moment in your career. What were the circumstances and what did you do?"

"Can you tell me about a time when the odds were stacked against you, but you still came out ahead?"

This kind of question is very popular among interviewers (as it should be: it's generous, meaningful, and a chance for you to shine). You know it's likely coming your way. If you're caught off guard, you may miss a brilliant opportunity to stand out.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready for your spotlight moment.

Employ the STAR method

Before you rehearse an answer to this seemingly daunting question, organize your thoughts using the STAR method (Situation or Task, Action, Results). First, identify the Situation or Task you plan to address. Be as specific as possible. Next, illustrate the Action you took to solve the issue. Finally, describe the Results. After explaining what happened, remember to note what you learned from the experience.

Know what's being asked of you

As they listen to your response, your interviewers will look for signs of honesty and confidence. But they'll also read between the lines to gain a sense of your experience and your situational awareness. (What do you consider a big deal?) For example, as you tell the story, do you take credit for what was clearly a team effort? Do you seem oblivious to the support and sacrifices of others? Can you celebrate your victories without getting carried away? Do you rest on your laurels after an achievement, or do you keep moving forward?

Choose the right story

You've had victories in your lifetime, so you'll need to choose the moment or story that can help you the most. If possible, choose an episode that bears relevance to the job at hand, highlights your strongest talents and abilities, and is interesting. Good stories make a deeper impression and last longer in your listener's memory.

Brag a little

If there's ever a perfect moment to boast in a job interview, now is that time. Maintain your integrity (don't lie or exaggerate), but within those bounds, fly your 'me' flag high. Share the obstacles you overcame and skills you applied, and  tell the story of how you saved the day. Don't hold back. This is your moment!

Enjoy yourself

Some interview questions are harder to answer than others. Some can seem like a grim interrogation, or an impossible puzzle. Not this one! Make the most of this moment, and demonstrate body language that shows confidence and positive attitude.

—Meanwhile, visit MyPerfectResume for more tips on acing your interview and landing the job you want.

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